Start Reducing Your Risk Today
The basics of stroke prevention are to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet, not smoke and control associated medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.
Risk Factors and Lifestyle Choices You Can Control
- Reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) by eating a healthy low-sodium diet, drinking less alcohol, reducing stress, quitting smoking and taking medications if necessary.
- Treat and control atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
- Lower your cholesterol levels by eating a healthy diet, exercising, losing weight and taking medications if necessary. Reduce your LDL, the "bad cholesterol" that can clog your arteries, to less than 100mg/dL. Keep your HDL, the "good cholesterol" that helps reduce your bad cholesterol level, at 60mg/dL or higher.
- Control diabetes (high blood sugar). The National Diabetes Education Program provides a helpful list of ways to manage your diabetes.
- Don't smoke and if you do, stop immediately. St. Charles Health System offers smoking cessation programs (link). Call 541-382-4321 for more information.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Stop using stimulant drugs. In particular, methamphetamine use greatly increases risk of stroke in young people.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for stroke.
- Exercise regularly to keep your body and immune system strong.
- Eat a healthy diet to help reduce stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. For more information about a healthy diet and stroke prevention, click here.
- Correct hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and low blood oxygen levels.
Risk Factors You Can't Control
- Increasing age: The chance of having a stroke more than doubles for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is more common among the elderly, people under 65 frequently have strokes.
- Gender: Men are at greater risk for stroke than women, and they tend to occur earlier in life for men.
- Heredity: A family history of stroke and other associated health conditions increases your stroke risk.
- Race: Black women have a greater risk of stroke (and heart disease) than white women. Compared with whites, African-American men and women are more likely to die of stroke.
- Previous stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or heart attack.
Other factors that raise the risk of the intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhage types of stroke include:
- Blood and bleeding disorders such as:
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation, a serious disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting are abnormally active
- Hemophilia or bleeding disorder in which it takes a long time for the blood to clot
- Sickle cell anemia, a disease passed down through families in which red blood cells are an abnormal crescent moon shape
- Decreased levels of blood platelets (cells)
- Use of aspirin or anticoagulant medications (blood thinners). If you have been prescribed aspirin, do not stop taking it without your doctor’s advice.
- Liver disease, which causes increased bleeding risk in general
- Brain or cerebral (head) tumors
See your physician on a regular basis in order to control any risk factors you may have. If you do not have a physician, the time to establish care is now. St. Charles Family Care (link) will connect you with a physician in your area.